NECAC: More first-time clients reach out for help

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 4:18 AM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - New inflation numbers released Tuesday show inflation, while still high, could be easing. Those at NECAC say that could help people struggling to make ends meet.

They said poverty levels have remained stable in the Northeast Missouri region, somewhere 11 and 14 percent depending on the county, but they said they are seeing a lot more people at risk of slipping into poverty reaching out for assistance.

Public Relations Officer Brent Engel said they have been seeing a lot of first time clients coming in to utilize their services across Northeast Missouri.

He said their utility assistance program normally gets less than a hundred applicants, depending on weather but it’s a different story this time around.

“In the first four months of the fiscal year which began October 1, we are up more than 500 applications from the same period of the year before,” Engel said. “One fifth of that is in Marion County alone, a 115 more applications for the first four months of this year compared to last year.”

He said more families are living from paycheck to paycheck. While their wages and jobs might be stable, inflation eats up a lot of their money. Unexpected finances, such as medical bills or rising grocery can also cut into their budgets significantly.

Food pantries are also seeing more use as well amidst high grocery prices. Harvest Outreach’s Loaves and Fishes said they are seeing so many people that they are running low on food.

Pastor Larry Hinds said since they moved to the downtown area, they have seen a lot more traffic. He said normally they would give out 40 boxes of food a week to people but over the last month, it’s increased to 75 to 100 boxes of food a week, and it’s hard to keep up with the demand, even with donations from Aldi and Walmart.

“Once a month, we get some food in from the food bank, which normally that took care of our needs,” Hinds said. “Now one of the things that we also use is we have the two sober living residences for men and women in Hannibal and so that food has also been used to supply the food for those people also so now we’re just not getting enough food.”

He said inflation at the grocery store has been a factor in the demand as they see quite a few families who’s budgets have been impacted. He said they have had to reduce the amount of food from three days worth of food, to a couple days.

Engel said they are urging people to fill out a community needs assessment to help determine what resources are needed in Northeast Missouri.

If you want to donate to Harvest Outreach, you can go down to Loaves and Fishes at 413 Broadway from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily or go onto their website to contact them.

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